avatarNancy S Rust


Walking My Way

When less is more

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Last week I was able to start taking my morning walk again for the first time in more than a month. I broke my toe, and for a while, wearing shoes and walking were painful.

The first morning I walked after my absence, birds serenaded me as I left the house. Farther on, a mockingbird landed on a post and entertained me with a medley of songs. Red-winged blackbirds made their presence known. I am so grateful for birds and their songs and beauty.

Another morning I stopped to take pictures of the dark clouds looming overhead. I appreciate the way mornings unfold in different kinds of weather — windy and cold, cool and breezy, still and quiet, foggy, sunny, cloudy. (Rainy days I stay home.)

Morning walks make my whole day better, and I was sorry to miss them while I waited for my toe to heal. They are relatively leisurely times that I enjoy walking with my dog and appreciating nature.

My morning walks are now quite different from the ones I used to take when I concentrated more on the intensity of my walk and less on my surroundings.

I read that we need to take 10,000 steps a day, so I made 10,000 daily steps my goal. For a time, I made great efforts to meet the goal, even to the point of going out to walk around the block before the clock struck midnight.

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At some point, I fell behind and put the goal (and my pedometer) aside. Periodically, I revived the goal, got out the pedometer, and scrupulously worked to meet my goal before something in life intervened and I again set it aside.

I suppose the most positive description of my past walking goals is to say I was consistent — consistently in a cycle. I consistently made a 10,000-step goal, obsessively worked toward it, dropped it, stayed away from it for a while — sometimes quite a long while — and then started the whole cycle over again.

A couple of years ago I read the 10,000-step target began as part of a marketing campaign for a pedometer and people could get the same health benefits with fewer steps — especially older people. As few as 6,000 daily steps were equally beneficial for me.

Not long after I read that, my daughter gave me a Fitbit.

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What a difference a Fitbit and a reduced goal make! (And maybe age.)

I wear my Fitbit all the time. It continuously records my steps. My reduced goal of 6,000 steps is way more doable. I reach it almost every day. If I don’t, especially on days I read and write a lot, I don’t worry because I know I likely exceeded it on other days. For example, over the last three days, my steps number 6,654; 4,613, and 10,307 — one day meeting the goal, one under, and one over.

As for speed, on some days — especially cold days — I walk fast the whole way. Other days are slow days; most days are variable speed days — sometimes fast, sometimes slow, depending on how I’m feeling at the moment.

While I walk, I think. I practice gratitude. I mentally write. All of those are beneficial too and contribute to my overall sense of well-being.

I feel more laid-back about everything after I walk. Being in the outdoors helps me keep things in my life in perspective.

Key Message: The best goals are those that are doable — doable without being stressful. By decreasing the number of steps in my goal, I invited pleasure into my walks.

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